Museums in Houston

For a big blast of museums, the Houston Museum District is an area with a radius of 1.5 miles from the Mecom Fountain. This museum district is packed with 18 museums (although some of them don’t fall into a traditional museum category) which give visitors a taste of art, science, and education in a variety of disciplines. Use this guide to help you navigate through the famous Houston Museum District.

Children’s Museum of Houston

The Children’s Museum of Houston is 90,000 square feet of hands-on experiences for children and their guardians. Spend all day exploring areas such as FlowWorks, Kidtropolis, USA, PowerPlay, Invention Convention, Matter Factory, Cyberchase – The Chase is On!, and Tot*Spot. Look for special events as they occur regularly.

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum and Heritage Center

The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum and Heritage Center was founded in 2000 to pay homage to African Americans who served their country in every great American war. In 1866 Congress adopted legislation to create six all African American army units and the recruits came from all different backgrounds. The goal of the Buffalo Soldier’s Museum is to preserve and promote the history of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science has a slew of permanent exhibits such as the Burke Baker Planetarium, Wortham IMAX Theater, Cockrell Butterfly Center and many others that attract hundreds of visitors daily. There are also a huge variety of traveling exhibits which make their stop at this museum.

Czech Center Museum Houston

The Czech Center Museum Houston works to preserve the culture of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Slovakia. There is an eclectic collection of artifacts and art pieces and includes a library.

Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum

The Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum is the only place in the western hemisphere with intact Byzantine frescoes of this particular size and importance. A portion of these 13th century pieces of artwork were stolen from a church in Cyprus in the 1980s and the Menil Foundation worked with church approval to rescue these pieces and painstakingly restore them.

Houston Zoo

Not typically considered a Museum, the Houston Zoo is included in the Houston Museum District. The zoo has more than 4,500 animals which provide a number of different experiences with different habitats and environments.

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is a non-collecting institution which focuses on art of the last 40 years. Founded in 1948 the museum looks to present new art and evaluate its role in current society. One great aspect of the museum is it’s always free.

The Health Museum

The Health Museum is also known as the John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science. It’s an interactive science learning center and promotes healthier lifestyles, fitness and physical, mental and spiritual health. Their most popular exhibits include the Amazing Body Pavilion, McGovern 4D Theater, You: The Exhibit, and Facing Mars.

Holocaust Museum Houston

Holocaust Museum Houston looks to educate the public about the 6 million Jews and other victims of the Holocaust and other genocides. The exhibit galleries are changed and updated frequently to keep things current and fresh while the Permanent Exhibit focuses on lessons of the Holocaust in the words of Houston area residents who survived this travesty.

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft focuses on visual arts and the process, product and history of craft. Artifacts in the museum are mainly constructed of clay, fiber, glass, metal and wood. Not only is there exhibition facilities on the grounds but there are also actual working studio spaces for the local artist community. It’s a great place to watch art in the making and purchase one of a kind gifts.

Houston Center for Photography

Houston Center for Photography looks to not only expand the understanding of photography but explore its current and future effects on society and culture. Check out the currently changing events or educational workshops to see if anything appeals to the photographer in you.

The John C. Freeman Weather Museum

The John C. Freeman Weather Museum is the first and only museum of its kind. The museum was founded and operated by meteorologists and works to education the public about the weather and weather safety issues. Look for camps and workshops that appeal to you or your family.

The Jung Center of Houston

The Jung Center of Houston offers more than 100 classes annually in psychology, philosophy, the humanities, religion and expressive arts. In addition, the library and bookstore contain the most complete collection of Jungian subjects available in the region. The gallery is free to the public and changes monthly.

Lawndale Art Center

Lawndale Art Center is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary works of art by local artists. This multi-media museum features four galleries and about 500 artists annually in its ever changing exhibits.

The Menil Collection

The Menil Collection contains one of the most important private art collections of the 20th century, with more than 15,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photos and rare books. The pieces cover a vast range of time periods and regions and bring you some of the best art in the world.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is one of the largest art museums in the country with over 300,000 square feet if space, more than 57,000 works of art, and 18 acres of public gardens. There are two major museum buildings, two facilities for education and two house museums and more art than you can examine in one day.

Rice University Art Gallery

Rice University Art Gallery is the only university museum in the United States devoted to site-specific installation art. Five times a year artists come and create their works of art on location. The space allows large art installations that cannot be housed in most normal institutions so it’s always a unique and awesome experience.

The Rothko Chapel

Noted local art collectors, John and Dominique de Menil were looking for a way to bring the church back into art. Their chapel is a non-sectarian worship space with 14 massive canvasses by Rothko and features an Obelisk sculptural tribute to Martin Luther King Junior and a reflection pool outside the entrance.

If you’d like a guided tour of the Houston Museum District check out the collective website for information on how to take the tour and meet a museum curator, an art school director, a dino-expert, and a holocaust survivor.
Creative Commons License photo credit: AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker